Duty of candour and keeping patients safe

Vinita Shekar, Peter A. Brennan

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Over the decades we have witnessed legal cases influencing the government to develop the statutory duty of candour (DoC) in the medical profession. A duty that for a long time existed only in tort (civil) law. The purpose of the statutory DoC is understandingly important. For the public it simply reinforces an ethical duty already enforced by most professional regulators. For the medical profession, it is rather complex in ways that the courts can interpret and use it leaving uncertain legal ramifications for doctors. In this chapter, we explore the law in relevance with DoC in the United Kingdom, and the limitations and controversies around it for a better clarification and understanding. For organizations, we advocate the avoidance of bureaucracy in the DoC process and consideration of human factors before a regulatory response that avoids the fear of penalties, litigation and defensive practice among doctors undermining the development of culture of DoC. For the legal profession, is it time to change their outlook, where they are most able to support process of DoC and avoid the use of open disclosures to support a case of clinical negligence and its legal ramifications for doctors?

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)637-641
Number of pages5
JournalSurgery (United Kingdom)
Issue number10
Early online date2 Sept 2020
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2020


  • Apology
  • clinical negligence
  • duty of candour
  • errors
  • ethics
  • human factors
  • law
  • open disclosures

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Surgery


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